Editor’s note: In his doctoral dissertation, Pastor Pat Bailey of Telluride’s Christ Presbyterian Church claims the need for a re-visioning of the Christian church’s theology and its understanding of mission, the need for a more natural, integrative theology and for an earth-focused, contextual approach to mission. To that end, he reviews the theology of three contemporary theologians whose thought is very integrative of Nature and Spirit from three very different approaches. Pastor Pat first presents the thought of Sigurd Bergmann, who provides a view of the Spirit that is deeply integrative with Nature, expressed in classical categories of trinity and incarnation and informed by Liberation Theology. This blog is part of a weekly series.

Sigurd Bergmann’s use of Liberation Theology takes the focus off of ontological inquiry into the nature of God and places it on engaged reflection upon God’s liberating activity in the world.

I rather like what Bergmann says about God’s participation in creation and creation’s participation in God, participation rather than being.  I am not sure what it would mean to become the being of God, and I do not think that such is the point to the mystic’s experience of union or oneness.  Of course, Bergmann sees participation in God to refer to participation in God’s program of liberation, a participation with God rather than in God.  So, for Bergmann, what one experiences in the transparency of Nature is the working out of God’s plan rather than any direct experience of God’s self.

The mystics of the Christian tradition, however, do assert the possibility of participation in God in a most intimate and integrative fashion, a communality and harmony of interconnections, but on a scale far exceeding anything suggested by Bergmann.  While I agree that I cannot make sense of such participation in strictly ontological terms, I can nevertheless speak of an experience of or union with God-as-God rather than only speaking of a communion with God’s saving intent or events.

This is not an objectification of God; quite the opposite, it is a claim that while propositional assertions can never adequately perceive God, human persons and perhaps Nature itself can experience God apart from objectifying definitions.

What is your own experience of participation in God?  Does such union or communion require a personalized or anthropomorphic rendering of the greater reality some call God?  How does one access such experiences?

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